What Are the Duties and Responsibilities of a Research Assistant?

Although the specific job duties assigned to a research assistant will vary depending on industry and employer, generally speaking, such assistants are essential in the tasks of collecting data and conducting research through a variety of means. Continue reading for more information on a career as a research assistant. Schools offering Business degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

Research assistants work in laboratories and conduct surveys to help analyze research for possible publication. You will be working with groups of people as well as individuals. Your work environment can also shift from that of a lab to a classroom or any other area where you can collect data. More specific job duties may entail giving tests to subjects, entering collected data into a computer, going to the library to research publications, designing quality control procedures, and making tables and graphs. You will also have to create questionnaires, find research participants, track laboratory materials, and conduct presentations.

Important Facts About Research Assistants

Similar Occupations Market research analysts, statisticians, statistical assistants.
Work Environment Typically in an office setting within a laboratory or educational institution.
Key Skills Communication, writing ability, critical thinking, problem solving.
On-the-job Training Research assistants typically require some on-the-job training to learn the details of their duties.

Skills and Abilities

Several skills and abilities are needed to work as a research assistant. To write reports, it's important to have a strong understanding of grammar rules and structure. Knowledge of human behavior, including personality and behavior, will be helpful with gathering research. You also need to be able to complete clerical procedures, such as filing, word processing, and transcription. Computer skills will also help you input data and create spreadsheets.

Education

According to The Princeton Review, if you want to work as a research assistant, you should consider obtaining a bachelor's degree in a related field. While some jobs may not require a bachelor's degree, you will be a more attractive candidate to potential employers. A master's degree might be even more helpful, increasing your chances for job placement. People skills are important, and you must be a good listener and able to communicate effectively. If you further your education and obtain a doctorate in this field, your career may eventually lead you to a college classroom.

Salary

The Princeton Review notes that in many of these positions, salary is based on your knowledge and experience in the field. As of May 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) documented that the mean annual wage for a research assistant in social science was $43,070. This figure does not include graduate teaching assistants.

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